Defined: “All Things Considered”, A Reflective Assessment Strategy

Arthur Ellis (2001) views effective education as having three parts, teaching learning and assessment.  By assessment he means a technique of self-assessment whereby both student and teacher find meaning.  Through a process of reflective thinking, mere teaching becomes great teaching, since what we are learning must impact who we are becoming.  He describes that pursuit of meaning as being the central idea sometimes missed in all the activity that is modern education:

This is the essence of reflective thinking, a search for meaning.  Reflection involves stepping back from what you’re doing in order to achieve some measure of perspective. It means thinking, talking, and otherwise expressing your feelings, the things you’ve learned, the growth you’ve achieved, and the sense you have of accomplishing something. I am convinced that this is one of the greatest problems we face in classroom life.  The problem is, a failure to reflect.  The remedy is to take the time to do it in spite of the fact that you and your students won’t be able to “cover” as much. No amount of “fun” activities can make up for the loss that accompanies a failure to search for meaning.  (Ellis, 2001, p. 5)

In the intervening years since Teaching, learning and assessment, Ellis has been refining strategies that can help build more effective teachers and students through reflective thinking, what he calls the reflective classroom.  In particular, he has been tailoring the reflective assessment strategies for different grade levels and subject matter.  For example, in Ellis & Denton (2010) he describes 16 strategies for “Middle and High School Mathematics and Science.”

  1. I Learned
  2. Think Aloud
  3. The Week In Review
  4. Post It Up
  5. Jigsaw
  6. Key Area Identification
  7. Authentic Applications
  8. Parents on Board
  9. Search for Meaning
  10. I Can Teach
  11. Write It Down
  12. Learning Illustrated
  13. Clear and Unclear Windows
  14. Letting Questions Percolate
  15. Record Keeping
  16. Pyramid Discussion

As I get to apply some of these strategies in pursuit of the MAT, I would like to post a short description of each technique separately from the application of that technique to some coursework.  I will tag each post that intends to illustrate a given technique with the name of that technique; thus for this post “AllThingsConsidered” is the tag.  In particular, here is how Ellis (2001, pp. 115-117) describes that strategy.

The All Things Considered strategy asks students and teachers to take a few minutes at the end of the day, when the time comes in the afternoon that the day is a history that began that morning, to think back over the things that happened, and to see whether some of them might in some ways be related or connected, and if so, how they might be connected. This search for connections should cause students to focus on the essence of the activities and lessons in which they were engaged. It should bring about some sort of inquiry into what  the day at school was "all about.”

Initially, I am prone to think that there are a lot of similarities between the strategies, but that may be simply because they all have a metacognitive aspect, namely “what are you thinking about what you are thinking about”.  I am looking forward to trying out many of these techniques in the course of my study.

References

Ellis, A.K. (2001) Teaching learning and assessment together:  the reflective classroom.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.  Amazon. Google Books.

Ellis A.K., & Denton, D.W. (2010) Teaching, learning, and assessment together:  Reflective assessments for middle and high school mathematics and science.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.  Amazon. Google Books.

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